Know a tree with an interesting past? Nominate it for Heritage status
Published on April 11, 2022
Fort Worth has long promoted urban forestry practices, dating back to 1873 when the city charter declared it illegal to hitch a horse to a tree. The city even hired its first arborist in the 1920s.
So it should come as no surprise that there is an assortment of trees spread throughout the city that are considered significant and are classified as Fort Worth Heritage Trees.
One of those trees, the Turner Oak, is recognized as a Texas Famous Tree. The Texas Forest Service took a core sample and estimated the tree is more than 250 years old.
The Turner Oak has played an important part in the history of Fort Worth. It is named after Charles Turner, one of five men selected to find a location for the camp that was to become Fort Worth. Although opposed to the secession of Texas leading up to the Civil War, he supported the decision of the majority after they voted to side with the Confederacy by organizing a company of men for the war at his own expense. When the Confederacy demanded that citizens exchange their gold for Confederate currency, Turner refused and, with the help of a trusted slave, buried thousands of dollars in gold under a tree growing near the family’s home. During Reconstruction following the end of the war, Turner unearthed the gold and used it to pay off debts owed by the firm of Turner and Daggett and stabilized the local economy, allowing the city to get through a financially difficult period.
This is just one of the interesting finds that Hannah Johnson, natural scientist supervisor with the Fort Worth Park & Recreation Department, discovered while updating the Heritage Tree webpage recently.
“The history and significance these trees have to the Fort Worth community is invaluable,” Johnson said.
What does it take to become a Heritage Tree?
A tree must be located in the Fort Worth city limits and meet at least one of these criteria:
- Possess an unusual size, age, species significance or other characteristic that contributes to its heritage status.
- Be located on a historic site, or contribute to the history of a site.
- Serve as a well-known landmark.
- Contribute to significant community ties.
Nominations for new Heritage Trees are reviewed annually by an independent panel, and new Heritage Trees are announced at the city’s Arbor Day celebration in November.
The Heritage Tree Program helps to foster an appreciation of trees and promotes public awareness that heritage trees are a living and distinct resource for the community. If you know of a tree that meets at least one of the criteria above, take the time to nominate it. The more history and background provided, the better the tree generally scores with the panel.
Browse pictures, locations and learn the history of these magnificent trees on the city’s new Heritage Tree webpage. All Heritage Trees posted on the webpage are accessible to the public. You won’t find a sign at most of the trees, so be sure to check the map location and cross-reference the photos online to make sure you are at the correct one. Photos of Heritage Trees taken by residents through the years can be emailed to city staff.
To learn more about the Heritage Trees program, email Hannah Johnson.
Photo: Located in Greenwood Cemetery, the 250-year-old Turner live oak has played an important part Fort Worth’s history.
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